Leave it! How to teach your dog leave it quickly

How to teach a puppy to leave it

Leave it! I can name a ton of times you might need to use this behavior from passing some food someone left on the floor, passing items as a therapy dog, leaving food you drop while cooking or even passing dogs to prevent barking and lunging. Below we will review how to teach your dog to leave it. Leave it goes hand in hand with drop it, so don’t forget to train that too!

Before we get started remember to keep your sessions short and end on a high note. Need tips to get started or treat recommendations be sure to read our blog here.

Ready to get started on teaching your dog to leave it?

  1. Start with two treats, one higher value than the other.
  2. Put the lower value treat in your hand and make a fist around it while the other treat will go behind your back in the other hand.
  3. Let your dog sniff your hand and say, ‘leave it’.
  4. Be patient and leave your hand there.
  5. The moment your dog stops sniffing, licking, etc yes “good!” and reward with the better treat. We are giving him a better reward for leaving something that smelled really good.
  6. Once your dog is proficient at this begin to open your hand with the treat on your palm and say, ‘leave it’. IMPORTANT, as soon as your dog goes for the treat you need to be speedy and close your hand so he doesn’t get the treat.
  7. As your dog backs up, open your hand again and repeat the steps above but be ready to close it if he goes for the treat. Remember to reward small steps of progress

Taking your ‘leave it’ training up a step

Once the above steps are solid and you both are mastering your leave it it’s time to make it harder.

  1. Place a treat on the floor and keep your hand hovering nearby
  2. Tell your dog to leave it
  3. If he does leave it read with another treat – we don’t want to teach him he can leave something then go eat it up.
  4. If he doesn’t leave it and goes for it you have to be quick and cover-up that treat with your hand, when your dog backs off, uncover and try again.
  5. The first few times you might be covering the treat a few times – and that’s okay. Your dog will soon understand.
  6. Lastly, once your dog is very solid and leaving it every time. It’s time to put something on the floor like a toy or treat and with your dog on leash walk by and ask your dog to leave it.
  7. To progress to a harder leave it try asking your dog to leave tastier and smellier treats!
how to teach your dog leave it

We hope this sets your dog up for success on leaving a leave it. Have fun training together!

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  1. Thank you for explaining some of the steps to teach your dog “leave it”. My husband and I have been wondering how to properly teach our dog this, since we want to make sure he doesn’t get into anything on our walks. I’ll have to try this out when I get home tonight and see if we can’t teach him this over the next week.

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